Interview with Zakk Wylde

link to zakk wylde interviewLegendary guitarist and leader of the band Black Label Society Zakk Wylde phones in to promote the band’s latest album and tour.

Matt: The new album “Order of the Black” is out now, debuting at #4 on the Billboard Top Album Charts. Congratulations and please tell the fans who may not have heard the album a little about this latest release.
Zakk: It’s another BLACK LABEL album and once again, if you don’t like it, it makes a wonderful beer coaster (laughs), so it’s a wonderful record.
MD: Established BLS fans will certainly feel familiar with the sound and songwriting style of this 13 track opus, a strong mix of rockers and ballads. How do you feel this record reflects the evolution of Black Label’s finely-crafted sound?
ZW: We recorded it in a bunker, you know we have a home-studio now and we couldn’t be happier with the bunker. The thing is we can record there, mix it there, we can do everything there. So we make the donuts there and wrap them up, package them, box them and send them out, so I’m definitely psyched about that. To me, just like all records… you say “What’s your favorite Zeppelin record?”, and whatever. To me they are all just like a snap-shot in time. That’s where the band was at that time. It’s like looking at a high-school picture of yourself, like when you look back, you laugh at it and it’s always good times. That’s where you were at that point, and that’s what you thought was cool. It was 4 years in between this album and ”SHOT TO HELL“, but I didn’t sit around writing songs for 4 years, and use the best 13 songs we are going to use, or whatever. We took 94 days, just like how we made all the other records. We just go in, and it depends on which side of the bed you woke up on that morning, or what you were listening to before you started recording the record, whatever is inspiring you that day. It took 94 days from writing, recording, mixing and mastering with George Marino (Iron Maiden, Metallica). So we just like all the other records, we just go in and knock it out. If I’ve got to write lyrics, or come up with a melody, I’ll go watch some SEINFELD or something, then listen to the tune and knock something out.
MD: You have to be pleased about recording this album using all your own stuff.
ZW: It doesn’t make a difference to me. When I was recording at some studio in Nashville, or ELECTRIC LADYLAND, or you could put me at ABBEY ROAD. Yeah, it’s definitely cool because those studios are hallowed ground. I think if you put any band or any artist in the studio it breeds inspiration because everything sounds big. I could put you behind a piano and if it sounds great you’re just going to start writing songs. It’s not like now that we have our own studio we are concerned about time restraints or this, that and the other, because I never worried about time restraints when making any other record. If we can knock the record out in 2 weeks and be done with it, great. If it takes us 6 weeks, it takes 6 weeks. I don’t sit and think “We’ve been in here a week too long”, I’ve never made records like that. We’re not dicking around while we’re sitting in there, it’s like dude, let’s do something! It’s like band rehearsal, we just go in and knock it the hell out.
MD: In my opinion, this is production wise is one of the best sounding Black Label albums to date.
ZW: Thanks man
MD: Joining BLS for this album and tour is Orlando native Will Hunt, who some may remember was the drummer in SKRAPE. How did you hook up with Will and how is he doing these days?
ZW: Will’s awesome. We ended up meeting Will on the “Pedal to the Metal” tour with MUDVAYNE and at the time he was jamming with STATIC-X. Whenever you do the tours you wind up hanging out with the guys in the other bands and you become friends with the other guys. So when Craig O couldn’t do it anymore, the first person we called was Will. I’m at the point now where we don’t need to audition 800 guys. To be BLACK LABEL guy you can’t be a douchebag and you gotta know how to play your instrument, and Will fits that description with flying colors. He is good people and he can play his ass off.
MD: Let’s talk about GUITAR TONE for a second. Readers should already know that you play your trademark Gibson Les Paul through Marshall amps and cabinets. Are there any new toys or gadgets that you may have used in the studio this time?
ZW: I’m using the EPIPHONE “Graveyard Disciples” guitar, the one shaped like a coffin. I used that on a couple solos, it’s got the whammy and stuff like that on it. The Floyd Rose so it’s a little toy. For the majority of the stuff I just used my Les Paul’s and my V’s (?), I have a couple of them (those are the Gibson’s and the Epi’s), and that’s about it. My guitar tone is just my Marshall’s and my Gibson’s. It’s like peanut butter and jelly, for me, I’m just not going to beat it.
MD: When you were putting together the pieces of this record, did you ever consider doing something totally ridiculous and unexpected, for example, record a full on thrash metal song or hell, even an album?
ZW: I’ve always done that anyway. We always record whatever we want to record anyway that’s why I always say that in BLACK LABEL we’ll piss wherever we want to piss. I never go in there saying “We can’t do that”, or “We can’t do this”. Look at ZEPPELIN, they always did whatever they wanted to do, and they didn’t care. It was like “Oh, we feel like doing this now. We feel like doing that”, musically they just pissed wherever they wanted to piss. So we’ll always do whatever we want to do. I never look at it that way.
MD: I recently heard through the grapevine Black Label is scheduling a tour of the Europe, is this true? That has to be pretty exciting for you guys.
ZW: Yeah, we’re definitely going to go to Europe. Originally it was scheduled for 8 shows in England, but now we’re going to stay over there for a bit and try to hit everything.
MD: According to State and Federal Law, I’m obligated to ask you… how is your relationship with The Osbourne’s these days?
ZW: Everything is great with OZZ. He’s touring right now, and I talked to him about 2 weeks ago when I had these blood clots. He called me up and said “Dude, what the Hell’s going on over there?”. He goes “If you die before me I’ll have to kill you” (laughs), I said “Thanks a lot boss, I’d expect nothing less”. I love OZZY, he’s the best man. MOM’s also too. When we did the ROXY show, Mom came down for that. Everything is great. OZZ is out on tour whipping ass with GUS and BLASKO and the boys. We did the OZZFEST, we had a blast on that thing. Around here on the “BEZERKUS” with CLUTCH, C.O.B. and 2 CENTS we are having a blast, and seeing all the BLACK LABEL fans all over the place is killer.
MD: You just mentioned the bands you are touring with on the “BEZERKUS” tour, that’s got to be a blast hanging with those guys night in and night out?
ZW: Yeah, without a doubt, those guys are throwing down every night.
MD: You also just mentioned that you were hospitalized recently for blood clots, I imagine you must be feeling good to be out on tour right now.
ZW: With the blood clot thing I just have to take blood-thinners, but I can’t drink. Beer is gone and I can’t drink booze any more, but you know it’s no big deal. I was just laughing because people ask “Are you in the 12-step program?”. No, I’m in the BLACK LABEL 1-step program. Your done dude (laughs). I don’t need to spend $30,000 having somebody tell me something I already know.
MD: Would you ever consider doing any further STEEL DRAGON material (from the Movie “ROCKSTAR”)?
ZW: That is hysterical man. NAH, you know I had a good time when we made the movie, but nah, I’m doing BLACK LABEL.
MD: Since we’re on the subject of movies, I wanted to ask you about the movie “BONES” which is scheduled to come out this year in which you are one of the stars. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
ZW: The guys asked me about doing the movie, and I was like “Yeah, no problem, just tell me what you want me to do”. Just like when I did the “ROCKSTAR” thing it was like “Well, what do you want me to do?”. “Well Zakk, we’re going to have this guy who shoots guns, drinks beer and plays guitar.” I go “…and you’re going to pay me for this?!?” (laughs). I was like “Yeah! No problem! Just tell me where I gotta be”. Doing “BONES” was once again, all good people and you always have a good time when you do those things. If I managed, it’d be like me asking you to do something like play a criminal or a drug-dealer, you’d be like “Yeah Zakk, no problem, I think I can pull that off”

MD: We want to thank ZAKK WYLDE for calling in and recommend to all of you metalheads to go check out BLACK LABEL’s new album “ORDER OF THE BLACK“ in-stores now and online at

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